Sunday, August 02, 2009

Can you answer a question for me if I don't actually explain what the question is?

That was the title of a post I did over a year ago, put up for a few hours, and then took down. It was from back in the spring of 08. At the time, we were living in Fresno. I was trying to settle into my job there, and my family was trying to settle in to life there. Thing is, that's never been easy for us. No matter where we live, we're always dreaming of someplace else. Gudrun and I do have this wandering bug, even though we also feel the pull of wanting to be settled. There's also the complicating factor that close family members are spread out throughout the world, from the wilds of the North Atlantic to the sunny Caribbean, from Europe to Middle Earth (well... Wellington NZ, I mean).

So this post happened late one evening, after too much talk of far flung places and perhaps a few too many beers. This is what was originally posted 3/29/08...

Friends, I have to ask you something. Simply put, I'm faced with a decision. There are compelling pros and cons. It's a family decision. My question to you... Should we do it? That's the question. I invite your opinions. Thing is, I can't say what it is I'm considering doing. Might be a while before we can talk about it. Actually, it's not a precipitous thing. It's more of a planning ahead thing. But still, I feel an impulse to ask... Should we? So you need more to go on?

Okay, here's the downside of a yes vote...

Dangerous voyage. Foreign lands. Readjustment of left/right orientation required in many instances. Culinary challenges. Linguistic difficulties likely. Weather challenging. Sports knowledge rendered useless. Thick skin required. Fungus a possible problem. Snarky presenters on tv shows likely. Lots of stone. Financial ruination possible.

Here's the upside...

Dangerous voyage. Foreign lands. Readjustment of left/right orientation required. Culinary challenges. Linguistic difficulties likely. Weather challenging. Sports knowledge rendered useless! Thick skin required. Fungus a culinary delight. Snarky presenters on tv shows likely. Lots of stone.
Financial ruination not inevitable... Added to that... Marital harmony. International perspectives.

And a yes vote is a shout for faith in gifts given and the call to use them...

"What's the worst that could happen?" says a voice in the room. (I'm not kidding. That just happened.)
So what do you think? Should I embrace... the possibilities?

That's what I wrote, and thing is I got a quick barrage of responses, which reminded me that, oh, this blog thing is public and maybe I shouldn't be ruminating out in the open in quite this way...

The destination in question was, of course, the Shetland Isles. You may recall that my father in lives there, in a cottage by the wind wracked sea. We didn't make that move. We stepped back from that particular precipice. Gudrun and the kids did spend fall of of 08 in Shetland, as documented on her blog, The Shetland Trader. A year on from this post, though, we'd decided on our move back to Massachusetts, which we just completed.

Why do I post this now? Oh... no reason. Honestly, we're happy and excited about being back in Western Massachusetts. We're in a good place and we'll be staying put for a while. Of course, nothing is permanent and you should you check in here in the years to come you might well find us asking a similar question sometime down the line...

(By the way, the first 11 or so comments on this came from that original post.)



Blogger Joe said...

I can almost guess down some possibilities which would inevitably be entirely incorrect, but...

Yes, because it includes marital harmony and even though I am much less of a risk taker (ya got the finances mostly figured out?), if the particular yes means something in the general horizon of some ring of stones and druids, it's scary but not as absurdly scary as, say, Uzbekistan.

And I say yes because, well, I'm not actually faced with the choice. Thinking about changes in employment is scary enough within the same city.

But you were asking about getting a kitten, right?

11:00 PM  
Blogger Andrea Eames said...

Yes. I have never regretted making the moves we have. We lost a lot of things, but we gained a lot more.


11:15 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

I'm a big believer in both marital harmony and international perspectives. I took my career overseas when my own kids ranged in age from nine down to two (and we had a 5th baby once we were there), and it was among the best parenting decisions I ever made. But once they enter their teens, it's important to leave them planted in one spot until they're launched on their own. The experience also made me a better writer. I was probably operating on a different kind of faith than what you speak of, but my gut reaction, without knowing any of the details, is "YES."

11:25 PM  
Blogger Meghan said...

I'm not qualified to answer (not being married and having children and all) so I'll use the Socratic method and throw out some questions for you to think about.

1) Is financial security the answer to happiness?
2) Could you see yourself living in said land for a long period of time?
3) Does marital harmony truly rest on location? Will both partners be happy in a new setting?
4) Will your children be able to adjust? What is the educational system like there? How do they treat foreign children (in Japan they are somtimes discriminated against for looking different)
5) How is the health care system there? IS there a healtcare system there?
6) Will family members be able to visit easily? Will just one side be able to visit? Or both? Or neither?
7) Is there cable?
8) Running water?
9) Internet?
10) Is the govt. stable? I wouldn't go to Iraq anytime soon...
11) Do they like Americans?

In other words, don't go to Canada. It's just too dangerous! ;p

1:28 AM  
Blogger Corby Kennard said...


Of course, not before you go on book tour for the mass market edition of Acacia.

But go.

I generally find that my biggest and most pervasive regrets are the things I've NOT done, especially when I've had the opportunity.

2:07 AM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Having lived in foreign countries quite a bit I'm all for it, but one thing I will say (having been caught out by it twice) is that you need to make sure that if you have to come back home you won't be stuck without a home and a job. Fortunately writing should keep you afloat no matter where you are.

2:36 AM  
Blogger John Scalzi said...

I'll tell you a story. Once upon a time, I lived in a place very much like you live now, and then I got a really interesting job offer and I turned to my new wife and asked if she wouldn't mind uprooting herself from her family and friends and everyone she knew so that I could do it. She said yes, and so I dragged her all the way across a continent and away from family for several years.

Then I became a freelance writer, and our daughter was born, and one day my wife said that she wanted to live closer to her family again, for our daughter's sake. And since I was a freelance writer, well, now I could live anywhere. And I bitched and moaned and whined about it, but at the end of the day the fact was she uprooted her life for me when I asked her to. Uprooting my own life at that point was much less disruptive than it had been for her when she did it. And I owed her.

So we moved, and now we live where we live, and generally speaking, we're pretty damn happy.

Whether this will have application for you on any level other than the metaphysical is for you to decide. Nevertheless, there it is.

Besides, now you won't have to pay for health insurance.

5:51 AM  
Blogger Laughton and Patricia Johnston said...

We can answer Meghan's questions 8 and 11 from the heart ... yes ... and yes!

5:51 AM  
Blogger Tia Nevitt said...

Health insurance issue aside, since your children are so young, I'd tackle the issue from their point of view. Will it be better for them if you go, or stay? How are their opportunities going to be over there, compared to over here? Are they going to embrace the difference, or pine for home?

Since I have a dual citizenship due to the fact that my mother was born in a country that has such citizenships, my husband and I have had a similar discussion.

Also, consider yourself. Will you hate it? If you do hate it, will you be able to keep that hate to yourself (I'm thinking the marital harmony thing here)?

6:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the other hand, no one has mentioned the race question: feeling at one's ease being black oneself, not to mention also raising mixed race children who feel confident and secure in their identity is not an easy situation to pull off in many communities of the U.S. If you've found a sanctuary for yourself and your family, ponder well and long before you leave it.

No one has made much of the financial situation either. Will there be plenty of money for the household? Guaranteed? Long termed? It all looks like an adventure and fun and games at the start: until the lights are going out, and hungry children are crying for their supper, and a gaunt-faced mommy and daddy are looking at each other wondering whose fault this terrible mess is ...

But, obviously, consider these questions in light of what everyone else has said, too.

Kai in NYC

10:31 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Wow. Thanks for all that. Since I'm being mysterious I won't answer suggestions specifically, but know that I appreciate both the enthusiasm and the caution...

11:45 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Hey. So the responses up to this point all came from the original post. At this point I decided I should keep the ruminations a bit quieter. But that was then.

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Ethan Iktho said...

So many people answer a question for you without knowing what the question is that I would be tempted to answer : yes, of course, I can answer, and no need to explain what the question is.

On the other hand, if you don't feel like explaining what the question is, maybe you already have the answer to the question, or maybe the question doesn't even need to be asked ?

But it could be also that human beings (and writers especially) like to complicate what could be or is simple.

Anyway, I think it's a good question !

12:12 PM  
Blogger Kate Elliott said...

One thing I've learned about life: you just never know what's going to happen.


Glad you're settling in comfortably in Western MA.

5:51 PM  
Blogger James McLauchlan Johnston said...

Come back!!!!

7:47 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...


Your vote is noted. Now, is that one vote, or three?...

11:36 AM  
Blogger James McLauchlan Johnston said...

Of course it's three! They kicked once for yes...

12:56 PM  

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